We pulled out of Houston headed for Winnie and our exit from I-10. We got into Port Arthur and ate breakfast at “The Causeway” where they were nice enough to let us use their wireless and to tell us that there was “nothing” out where we were headed. The road between Port Arthur and Cameron was pretty desolate with just a few houses along the gulf beach, which made it a perfect place to check out the beach.
Being on the road, we were really hoping to stop at a beach with showers so that we could rinse the salt water off before moving on but it quickly became apparent that was an unreasonable expectation. We settled for making friends at Mieaux’s Seafood (just an old man living on the beach in his trailer that delivers crab to his customers) and asking if we could use his water spigot to rinse off with–he was quite happy to let us, he just wanted us to know that he was “Fixing to go deliver some crab” so we’d have to help ourselves.
It was so nice to get out and spend some time at the beach. Sprocket finally dived in and swam after us but he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it though, he really just seemed to want us to come back to the beach. He was a sand dog though, and loved to go under the jeep and roll in it.
Leaving the beach, took the ferry to Cameron. On the ferry we asked one of the operators for advice on where to get lunch and he recommended Sha Sha’s in Creole. Getting off the ferry, we really started to see the effects of Hurricane Rita, everyone has a brand new house or mobile home–on stilts. In Creole, we did get lunch at Sha Sha’s–I had grilled shrimp and Forrest had fried catfish. My shrimp were fantastic and the catfish was pretty good too, neither one of us are big fried fish fans though. After lunch while we were letting Sprocket run around a bit, one of the waitresses came running out with the deep fried Oreos that she’d made for us.
After that we headed for Abbeville. Abbeville was supposed to have a great oyster house–it was closed (permanently) and there really didn’t seem to be anyone around so we headed for New Iberia. In ‘Beria as I was later told everyone calls it, we walked around the downtown, along the Bayou Teche (Snake Bayou), and checked out some of the cool old houses. After walking around we headed back to a bar with outdoor seating to see if we could meet some of the locals–and boy did we! We stumbled on to Clif Ayers 83rd birthday party and his wife and sons were more than happy to have us sit down. They old us all about New Iberia and the surrounding area and asked us all about our trip. Another friend of theirs, Roy, was also very happy to talk to us. As the evening wore on, Clif and Debbie headed for home and we (including Sprocket) went with Roy to another bar in town. We got to talk to a lot of people and Sprocket just slept on the barroom floor. What a night in southwest Louisiana!
Today we spent the morning taking care of some small clean up things on the Jeep, preparing for the next leg of our journey. About noon, we loaded Robin, her friend Mckinley, and Sprocket into the back of the Cherokee and headed for the shores of the Colorado for the afternoon. Forrest and I both noted that riding in the back of cars without seatbelts used to be a part of childhood but is something that has become non-existent. The girls didn’t care one bit about our philosophizing and giggled the entire way to the beach. Sprocket just got lots of love from the girls which he pretty much just takes in stride—“duh, the girls love me!”
Hanging out at the river was really nice. It was warm and pretty darn relaxing. Mckinley made a sand mermaid of Robin and we tried to get Sprocket to come swim but he’s still not so sure about the whole playing in the water thing. Despite his protestations we kept dunking him in the river to help keep him cool but aside from that he was very well behaved and loved just basking in the sun on our feet. Danette and Kirk joined us for a bit before we decided we’d all had enough sun. Forrest and I ended up riding Kirk’s motorcycle back to the house, which was really fun. What a way to travel through the canyon!
This evening, we just hung out at the house enjoying the nice evening weather, looking west toward the La Sals on the back deck. We’re doing our laundry to head out on the next leg of our journey: through southwestern Colorado towards Santa Fe then on to Carlsbad Caverns. I’m so excited to see lots of new things in the next few days!
Yesterday, we headed out of Mountain Home steaming for Moab, Utah. Sprocket really didn’t want to spend any more time in his crate although I really can’t blame him. We made him hang out in it for a bit and eventually let him back on the futon, which he seemed to enjoy. He got his twelve-week shots in the parking lot of a farm store in Burley, Idaho.
We took I-84 around Salt Lake through Coalville to US 40 past Park City. Sprocket was only restless when we tried to make him ride in his crate. He seemed to like being sprawled across the rear window.
On highway 6, we hit our trip highpoint (and Sprocket’s lifetime highpoint!) at Solider Summit: 7,477′. We stopped at Pinnacle Brewing Company in Price and tried a couple of their beers before getting back in the Jeep for the final push to Moab. Robin called to find out exactly what time we were coming in on Thursday, EXACTLY, as we were on our way to pick her up from her dog sitting job and boy was she surprised to find Gumper, Sprocket, and Beth there to pick her up!
After that we just headed to Danette’s where Sprocket got to run around and we all got to catch up. It felt great to have a shower and get to bed early. Looking forward to some fun in the sun! It’s supposed to be 80 today!!
We were able to hit the open road about one after checking out with our landlord (who had noticed me walking Sprocket in town last week but seemed pretty cool with the fact that we’d had him). It felt so good to be finally moving! The weather was typical “spring in Oregon” with nice low clouds as we headed up US 20 towards Sisters—our mission: to have beer & dinner at Barley Brown’s Brewpub in Baker City before they closed: 346 miles!).
We headed east through Redmond and Prineville toward the Ochoco Mountains. The mountains were quite pretty—a meander through pines in rolling small mountains. After John Day (where we filled up and found that we were getting about 23 MPG!) and the rather adorable town of Prairie City, we paused for a photo of the Strawberry Mountains—yet another place we need to go explore! Soon after leaving town, we crested Dixie Pass, the Ochoco divide, at 5,277’. We took OR 7 through the Elkhorns towards Sumpter and Baker City. We saw a herd of about fifteen elk right on the road, earlier we’d seen an assortment of deer and pronghorn. It was too bad that it got dark just as we were getting into the Sumpter valley but Forrest tried his best to describe to me the dredge and railroad that he’d seen last summer when he passed through on his way to Glacier National Park.
Pulling into Baker City at about 8:30, in plenty of time!, Sprocket and I sprinted up and down Main Street for a bit, he’d been such a good car rider all day. Baker City is rather cute and I wish I could have gotten some pictures, but I’m sure we’ll be back. We had been hoping to make an unbiased assessment of Barley Brown’s this time but we were hungry and happy to have some beer to try so we won’t complain about it—as we sat down at the bar Forrest said, “Maybe we’ll just keep this as the place that we come to after not having ate for seven hours and just want food.” We got a taster of beers (our tasting notes to come) and a couple of burgers, quite a perfect road meal.
Leaving Baker, we pushed on for another hundred miles to get past Boise. I felt bad that Sprocket had been in his crate so much and tried to let him hangout in the passenger’s seat with me. He loved hanging just his nose out the window and letting me hold him until we merged on to I-84 where I rolled up the window. He tried sitting on the floor between my feet before he crawled up on the platform and nested himself on the futon, stretched out, and crashed. We made it to a truck stop in Mountain Home where we ran Sprocket, set up our bed and crashed. It was perfect!
Yesterday Forrest and I spent our sunny Saturday afternoon starting to put together our sleeping platform in the back of the Cherokee. The platform is definitely taking shape–we made the platform itself as well as the three main lengthwise runners. Our long plastic containers perfectly between the runners and the cooler should fit just in front (or so my cardboard mockup seems to indicate). We still need to make the front cross-brace and add the brackets to keep things square but we’re getting closer! Our list of things to do isn’t getting shorter quite yet, we keep thinking of new things to do, but the items are getting smaller and more optional.
We took stock of what we’ll need to pack and where we’ll put it and everything seems like they’ll have nice places to go. I’m feeling pretty optimistic that things shouldn’t be too crammed together. Once I defend next Thursday I can really start rounding up the things that we’ll need and finalizing what goes where!
We sat down with a map of the US and started planning about how far we’ll go each day. We’ll certainly be refining our plans as we go along but having a pretty good outline of where we’ll be will help us start picking out cool things to see.
Sprocket was quite happy to help us with the whole mapping bit!
What would you do with a Cherokee that got 24MPG? Considering that I’m (finally) done with my college education but don’t have a job prospect lined up yet, we have some time on our hands. What better way to spend it than traveling the country seeing the sights and visiting old friends?
While the actual logistics of the trip have yet to be worked out, the general plan of where we’re going is starting to come together. The only solid date in the timeline is leaving Philomath on April 15th. From here, we’re headed to Moab, Utah then to Texas (Luckenbach, Austin, who knows where else), Louisiana (visiting Meg, checking out Bayou Country), continuing our way across Mississippi and Alabama (more food sampling, bayou looking, and I really want to see some old plantations). Then we’re headed to Florida to visit a friend of Forrest’s in Tampa Bay, check out the Everglades, and visit Key West.
From there we’ll head back up through Georgia (maybe visit Savannah?) on our way to the Carolinas. We’ll visit some more of Forrest’s friends in North Carolina where he’s very excited to get to ride “The Dragon.” From there we plan to play our way up the Appalachians, visiting more friends in Pittsburgh then heading for New York–stopping in Cooperstown! We’ll make a brief stop in Boston and then head up to Bates (hitting up Nezinscot Farm for sure!).
Finally, we’ll make stops in Shoreham/Middlebury and Burlington, VT to visit Katie & Colin and Lee & Jim. We may make it up to see more friends of Forrest’s in Ottawa before hitting the western road.
We’re starting to try and iron out the logistics of how we’re going to fit ourselves and Sprocket (who will be 12 weeks old when we leave town) semi-comfortably into a nice little box for over a month. I scouted all possible storage containers in Corvallis yesterday so we could start planning the actual building of our sleeping platform, found Sprocket a kennel that only sacrifices 2″ of length so he’ll fit in the passenger seat at night, and am on the lookout for a futon mattress to modify into our sleeping space. Forrest is hard at work brainstorming how the actual construction is going to happen as well as fixing any small issues with the jeep.
Sprocket meanwhile, is dreaming on my backpack and thinking going anywhere with his people is fabulous.
On Saturday we brought home our new puppy. Welcome home Sprocket!
He’s probably the most adorable little thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. Among his discoveries–
“Car riding can be really relaxing”: He slept all the way from Thomas & Tasha’s to our house curled up on my lap, happy as can be. Yesterday he took a short jaunt to the base of my weekday hiking hill.
“I can run!!”: While playing on Saturday morning he realized that out of the confines of the puppy box he could work up quite a head of steam. Now he “gallops” as often as he “runs.” It’s easy to tell when he’s getting tired because that’s the only time he walks.
“I found my food!”: He’s definitely learned the layout of our little house and will wonder in to the kitchen to get a drink whenever he feels like it now. This is a huge relief because Day 1 (Saturday) he hardly ate or drank anything.
“I can go hiking! Or at least Mom will carry me.”: Yesterday I was a little anxious to get out and DO something after having been on puppy patrol over the weekend. I also felt guilty about leaving him confined to the kitchen alone for another half hour or so… So I turned my backpack into a puppy carrier and used his leash and collar as a safety and away we went. He quite enjoyed his hike up the cell tower hill–he even got to run around and smell the wonderful smells at the top!
“Sleeping in my crate at night isn’t THAT bad.”: Last night he slept mostly without whining about being lonely, just when he needed to go out and go “potty.” It’s a bit exhausting to get up every two hours with him but we’re quite proud that he seems to understand that going potty in the house is not what he’s supposed to do. We haven’t punished him for his mistakes (although one of his VERY few mistakes was TOTALLY our fault…he was waiting by the door and we just thought he was exploring), we just say “potty” as he goes (which is supposed to help us train him to go on command which would be very nice while traveling) and then give him lots of loves afterwards.
We’re still working on the being home alone bit. He had a rough morning yesterday but once we gave him run of the kitchen as opposed to his crate he seemed much happier.
I also took a look at the way he sleeps outside his crate and realized that we probably made the crate too small for him. Since he seems to understand that he should only potty outside we took out the divider and he made it through the night so unless that changes, I think he’s earned the bigger crate.